Teen sentenced to jail for wreck that killed graduate

Woman, 16, gets year in jail following accident that killed Evans High grad

The teen driver involved in a May wreck in which a 17-year-old died was sentenced Friday to serve jail time.

Columbia County Juvenile Court Judge Doug Flanagan sentenced Amber Rose Lever, 16, to a year in jail.

On May 26, Lever was driving a friend's Mercury Mountaineer on South Old Belair Road when she veered onto Old Belair Lane. She hit a trash can, lost control of the sport utility vehicle and hit a tree.

Lever was driving on a Class D license with five passengers. Such a license prohibits her from having more than one nonfamily member younger than 21 as a passenger.

Taylor Gazaway, 17, was in the back seat and died shortly after the wreck. He and another backseat passenger were not wearing seatbelts.

"He was my best friend," Lever told the judge. "If I could've traded places with Taylor, I would've in a heartbeat. ... I love him so much."

Lever was charged with driving too fast for conditions, second-degree vehicular homicide and a license violation for having too many passengers.

"They were very close, they loved each other," Gazaway's mother, Dana Banker, told Flanagan before the sentence. "I don't think that jail is the place for her."

Banker said she'd rather see Lever do community service speaking to young drivers.

The wreck was Lever's second license violation for driving with too many passengers in less than six months, Flanagan said. For that first offense, she received probation, a brief license suspension, community service and a fine.

"Because of her inability to control the vehicle, which happens when you are newly driving, which is why you're not supposed to have other people in the car, someone is dead. Other people got injured," Flanagan said.

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